Depression in adolescents: a checklist for parents
According to WHO data for 2021, every seventh teenager suffers from mental disorders, including depression. Together with Yulia Karacheva, a psychotherapist at the Atlas network of clinics, we understand how to” catch ” anxiety symptoms, recognize depression in a teenager and provide timely help.
Table of Contents
How do you know if something is wrong with your child?
Adolescence is often difficult for children: their behavior and interests become different, and there is more stress due to changes in the body. Among all these manifestations, it is important to notice disturbing symptoms in a timely manner:
- aggression and excessive excitability
- despondency and apathy
- impaired sleep and / or appetite
- indifference to hygiene and appearance
- statements about the meaninglessness of life
- loss of interest in what used to bring joy
The last symptom is called anhedonia in medical parlance. Anhedonia is the inability to get pleasure from things and activities, including those that brought this pleasure before; to feel interest and rejoice. A number of reasons become a catalyst for the development of drug and alcohol addiction, including depression itself, upbringing, culture of use in the family, social circle, etc. The cause of self-harming behavior is depression, and various types of addiction can develop against this background.
How to distinguish depression from stress?
There is a big difference between stress and clinical depression. Usually, a stressful state is not as long-lasting as a depressive one, and the symptoms are less pronounced and severe. To understand what you are dealing with, you should visit a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. They will recommend the appropriate method. This can be psychotherapy, treatment with the use of pharmacological drugs, or complex therapy, which is the gold standard of treatment according to scientific studies. The myth of drug addiction often makes it difficult to seek help and contributes to the progression of the disorder. In fact, a new generation of antidepressants, which the patient takes as prescribed and under the supervision of a doctor, do not cause addiction.
How can I help my child in a difficult situation?
Both in the case of depression and in the case of stress, it is important to show empathy, not to scold or judge. Tell us honestly about your excitement, offer to visit a specialist together and provide support:
- Help you take care of your physical condition. Make sure that your child eats well, moves around, and gets enough sleep.
- Don’t limit yourself to your favorite activities. Playing with a pet, hobbies, walking, socializing with friends — let this list be extensive.
- Mindfulness and relaxation practices. This method is suitable not only for adults — in children’s centers you can find adapted meditation, anti-stress games and much more.
- Be open. The most important thing is your support. Only together with you will the child be able to overcome the crisis and become himself again.
Case study: Coping with exam stress
To help your child overcome the fear of an important event, emotionally support them and teach them a few relaxation practices:
- Internal dialog. The trick is to make your own arguments about why the disaster doesn’t happen and what result is sufficient. This will help you maintain your inner motivation and manage your fears.
- Square breathing. The practice lasts 2-3 minutes and looks like this: for four 4 seconds inhale, then hold your breath for four seconds, for the next four seconds exhale, and again for four seconds hold your breath.
- Five items. You need to look around and mentally list five things that you can see, four things that you can touch, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste. This will help to take root in reality and stabilize the internal state.Explain to the child that it is normal to worry, and if you try to get rid of the experience 100%, it will only increase the internal tension. It is more important to find a balance between internal support and acceptance of excitement.